World War Two was history’s most devastating war and the first truly global conflict.
During the war 100 million people were mobilised.
War engulfed countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, The Middle East and the Pacific
By the end of the war 60 million people had been killed and the global balance of power had shifted away from Western Europe.
For the duration of the war (1939-1945) a person was killed every 10 seconds……
The Nazi Invasion of Poland
Poland was created by the Treaty of Versailles.
Hitler was determined to add Poland to his successes in the Rhineland, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Sudetenland.
The Polish Corridor
Like many Germans Hitler found the existence of the Polish Corridor to be an abomination.
The “Corridor” had been created by the Treaty of Versailles to give Poland access to the sea.
It effectively split Germany in two.
Why invade Poland?
An invasion of Poland would achieve all FOUR of Hitler’s key foreign policy aims:
1)Overturn the Treaty of Versailles
2)Create Lebensraum (Living Space)
3) Make an invasion of Communist Russia possible.
4) Unite the people of Germany
Hitler was confident of success despite two major issues
Britain and France were allies of Poland and had promised to defend it…..
… but Britain’s policy of Appeasement and the failure to intervene in Czechoslovakia convinced Hitler that they would not act.
Communist Russia had good reasons to fight Germany and was more likely to attack German troops on her borders….
… but the Non-Aggression pact with Stalin and the secret agreement to divide Poland between Germany and Russia made the invasion possible.
On September 1, 1939 Nazi planes attacked Poland
The Nazis employed “Blitzkrieg” (lightning warfare) techniques:
Luftwaffe dive bombers would destroy cities, wipe out defences and terrify civilians.
Panzer tank divisions rapidly encircled Polish defences and destroyed them quickly.
Warsaw - the Polish capital
September 3, 1939.
For Chamberlain this was an unforgivable act of aggression and a direct challenge to Britain
Britain and her empire declared war on Germany.
The “Phoney” War Between September 1939 and April 1940 German forces remained in Poland. No soldiers, ships or planes were sent to attack Britain or France. People in Britain and France started talking about a “phoney” war - one without actual fighting… In reality Hitler had not expected the British and French to defend Poland. He was building up his military for the next phase.
In April 1940 German troops occupied Norway and Denmark.
Hitler needed iron ore from Sweden.
He was concerned that the British might occupy neutral Norway and control the seas north of Germany.
Chamberlain resigned. Winston Churchill became the Prime Minister of Britain.
During World War One was the Secretary of State for War.
He was in charge of the navy during World War One.
He led parliamentary opposition to Chamberlain’s appeasement policy.
Was British Prime Minister from 1940-1945.
The Maginot Line
France had started building the Maginot line in 1930 to defend its borders.
It was the largest defensive fortification in World history.
It was designed to prevent a surprise attack and to slow down the German military long enough to mobilise the French army.
It had machinegun posts, anti-tank defences, room for thousands of men and fortifications were linked by tunnels that ran for hundreds of kilometres.
Map of the Maginot Line The Maginot line only went to the border of Belgium. Belgium and France had a defence agreement and France planned to mobilise into Belgium. There was also a gap in the Ardennes forest, which was so thick that it was believed to be impossible to move through. The Nazis invaded through Belgium and the Ardennes.
May to June 1940 Hitler’s forces quickly overran Western Europe
May - June 1940
The “Miracle of Dunkirk”
As the German forces advanced over 500, 000 British soldiers were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk.
They had to be rescued by small boats from the coast of Britain.
The German assault was halted by Hitler because the area around Dunkirk was marshland.
He was worried that the German tanks would get stuck in the marshes and the British would strike back.
The Battle of Britain
Hitler planned to launch “Operation Sealion” - a naval assault on Britain.
This was a risky plan because the British navy was formidable and the air force could strike from the English coast.
He needed to destroy the Royal Air Force with his Luftwaffe (German Air Force)
The British had some “home advantages”
Radar (British were the first to use it defensively)
Heroic pilots (Polish in particular – but also from New Zealand)
Home advantage – downed pilots could be rescued.
Luftwaffe not designed to carry large bombs for bombing raids.
British bombing of Berlin annoyed the Nazis and distracted Hitler.
The “Blitz” (September 1940 – May 1941)
Unable to defeat the RAF in the air Germany adopted a new strategy - bombing London to destroy the morale of the British people.
40,000 civilians killed.
One million homes destroyed in London alone.
Children were moved out of cities into the countryside
New Target: Russia!
In spite of the mounting casualties the British refused to surrender.
Posters told Londoners to “Keep calm and carry on!”.
Hitler abandoned his plan to conquer Britain and turned his attention to Russia…
22 June 1941: Germany invades the U.S.S.R.
The long-anticipated clash between Nazism and Communism began in June 1941.
The invasion was called “Operation Barbarossa”
Hitler planned to enslave the Russian population and add the rich farmland and oil resources to the Nazi war machine.
Hitler was confident of victory over Stalin
“ We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down”
“ Kicking down the door” would have been Hitler’s greatest achievement:
Defeat of Communist Russia
Enslave Slavic people of eastern Europe (Nazi Germany used thousands of slaves from territory it conquered)
Gain Russia’s rich oil resources
The Nazis used a Big Boot..
An army of 3 million men.
Nazi troops were told to use ‘Blitzkrieg’ assaults.
In a country the size of Russia this meant slaughtering any captured Russians to avoid moving large numbers of prisoners around.
In some battles German soldiers drowned Russian civilians in swamps rather than ‘waste’ bullets.
Russia was to prove difficult to “tame”..
Pearl Harbour, December 7 1941 – intended to destroy the American navy and keep them out of the war.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour brought the United States out of isolation and into the war.
The same day Japanese forces attacked the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaya.
Hitler declared war on the United States to support his Japanese allies.
By the end of 1941 Nazi Germany is at war with Russia, Britain and the United States.
Trouble in Russia
December 1941 was the heart of the Russian winter.
The Nazi forces had expected a quick victory but Soviet resistance (and the bitter Russian winter) stopped the Germans in the suburbs outside of Moscow.
The Nazi ‘take no prisoners’ approach had a weakness – Russians now knew they had to either kill or be killed.
In summer the Nazis attempted to conquer the Russian city of Stalingrad.
Occupying Stalin grad would humiliate Stalin and give the Germans access to rich oil fields.
Stalin ordered all men able to hold a rifle to defend the Russian city.
The Nazi bombing of the city just created more rubble for Russian defenders to hide behind.
Stalingrad turns the tide
The fight for Stalingrad was brutal.
Street to street/house to house
Commanders on both sides were ordered to shoot deserters
1.5 Million killed (10,000 Russians in ONE day)
The Germans were comprehensively defeated.
From this point the Russians began their inevitable march to Berlin.
Meanwhile in Asia..
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 had NOT destroyed the American aircraft carriers.
They had been either on patrol in the Pacific or being repaired in California
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned the might of the massive American economy to the production of arms.
1942: The Japanese lose ground
In spite of the use of Kamikaze fighters (suicide dive bombers) and the determined resistance of Japanese fighters 1942 saw the United States navy fold back Japanese advances
October 1942: Battle of El Alamein
1942 was a bad year for Germany:
Advances in Russia were halted.
U.S. forces were reversing Japanese advances.
British and ANZAC forces defeat German troops in North Africa (there to support Mussolini)
1943: Slow progress….
Although Nazi forces were under pressure they were still a formidable force.
Allied troops (Britain, U.S.A.) landed in Italy and attempted to cut through the “soft belly” of Nazi Europe.
Hitler transfers troops to help Italian forces
6 June, 1944
Since the fall of France Nazi forces had been in command of Europe.
Only the Russians had successfully opened up a major front.
Defeating the Nazi forces would require more than British bombing raids and minor victories in Africa.
A full scale-invasion of Europe was needed…
Where was Private Ryan saved?
June 6, 1944: D-Day (The Battle of Normandy)
One of the riskiest invasions in world history.
Planning included fake radio broadcasts – even fake tanks to deceive the Nazis.
Captured German spies were forced to pass on false information about the invasion plans.
1.5 million Allied soldiers (U.S.A. and British) crossed the English Channel in stormy weather and established a beachhead in Normandy.
The Supreme Allied Commander was the American General Dwight Eisenhower.
Adolf Hitler on the Western Front
"In the East, the vastness of space will... permit a loss of territory... without suffering a mortal blow to Germany’s chance for survival.
Not so in the West! If the enemy here succeeds… consequences of staggering proportions will follow within a short time."
1944: Nazi Germany - doomed.
The Allied landing at Normandy had opened up a second front. Nazi forces were now being ground down by:
Russian forces in the east were now armed by the factories of the United States (even wearing American socks!)
U.S. led Allied forces in the west.
Both forces were racing towards Berlin…
Since 1943 Allied bombing of cities like Dresden had undermined German morale.
Support for the Nazis had been falling among ordinary Germans.
Many were resisting Nazi rules in private (hoarding food, mocking Hitler, refusing to use the “Heil Hitler” salute…)
End of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany had proven to be no match for the massive power of Russia and the economic might of the United States.
In April 1945 Soviet forces captured Berlin.
Hitler committed suicide rather than be captured by Stalin’s forces and taken back to Russia for an ‘interrogation’.
Following his death the German command surrendered unconditionally on May 8, 1945.
Soviet flag flying over Reichstag (German Parliament)
U.S. and Soviet soldiers celebrate the defeat of Germany.
August 1945, World War Two ends
America’s use of atomic bombs against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war in the Pacific in August 1945.
The Japanese surrendered and agreed to an American occupation until a new government was established.
Hot War to Cold War
By 1945 the world had changed forever:
Nazism, militarism and fascism had been comprehensively defeated.
The victorious countries were either communist (Stalin’s Soviet Union) or capitalist (Roosevelt’s United States)
Hot War to Cold War
Britain, France and Germany had ceased to be world powers. The old order was over.
The two true world powers were the United States and the Soviet Union. Their economic and military might made them true Super Powers.
The United States had the atomic bomb. The U.S.S.R. would acquire one within 4 years.
A prediction from Hitler
Days before he took his own life Hitler wrote these words…
“ After the collapse of the German Reich…there will only be two powers in the world: The United States and Soviet Russia. Through the laws of history and geographical position these giants are destined to struggle with each other either through war, or through rivalry in economics and political ideas”.